By Leroy Douresseaux
January 10, 2007 - 14:38
If the styles and sensibilities of EC legend Graham Ingels and alt-cartoonist Ted Jouflas were married, the resulting comix might look like David Sandlin's Swamp Preacher. Sandlin's new magazine-sized comic book series (7.5 x 10.25") does resemble some of the madness of EC horror comics mixed with the fever dreams of the best of the 70's and 80's Swamp Thing comic books.
The story begins with Bill Grimm and his wife Beatrice (or Betty), both hardworking employees of the novelty-item manufacturer, Pur-Ton-o-Fun Co. Having worked their way up the sales ladder, they get an invitation from the company's mysterious founder, Carl Bob, to spend a week with him at his retreat, Mephisto Gardens. The retreat turns out to be a rundown motel, but that's nothing compared to Carl Bob. A sin-eating revivalist-type preacher, Bob shares his origins with them, and it's either an epic horror-fantasy or the delusions of a very, very dangerous, sick, and twisted megalomaniac wannabe.
Although Swamp Preacher might recall classic horror, it's Underground Comix bordering on being outsider art, but it's fun to read - at least my reading of it was. There's a game the reader can play wherein he can see if it is at all possible for Sandlin to continue to be more shocking with each succeeding page. Personally, I prefer to see Swamp Preacher #1 as vicious and twisted commentary on evangelical Christianity mixing with imperial capitalism. Murder for profit and self-gratification - this might be some of the roughest backhanded social commentary about America since the glory days of Underground Comix… if I'm reading this correctly.